BBC 6 minute English-Why do we feel awkward

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BBC 6 minute English-Why do we feel awkward

 

 

Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

.Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Neil

.Dan: And I’m Dan

?Neil: Now then, Dan, do you ever feel awkward

?Dan: Awkward

Neil: Yes, feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed or self-conscious in a social situation where something isn’t quite right

Dan: Sometimes. I remember always feeling very awkward watching TV with my parents if there was an explicit love scene. You know, people canoodling

Neil: Oh yes, me too! And that feeling of awkwardness is what we are looking at in today’s 6 Minute English, and how it is all connected to social rules

Dan: Social rules are the unspoken rules which we follow in everyday life – the way we interact with other people and particularly with strangers

Neil: Yes. For example, if you’re waiting at a bus stop, it’s OK to talk about the weather to a stranger

Dan: But it would be very awkward if you broke that social rule by asking them about, oh I don’t know, how much money they earned

Neil: Oh yes, that would be wrong, wouldn’t it? And we’ll find out about another awkward situation on the underground railway later in the programme. Before that though, a quiz. Which city has the oldest underground railway? Is it

a) London

b) New York or

c) Tokyo

.Dan: Aha! Well, I’m pretty confident about this! I think it’s London

Neil: Well, I’ll have the answer later in the programme. Dr Raj Persuad is a psychologist. He was a guest on the BBC radio programme Seriously. He was talking about social rules. How does he say they affect our lives

Dr Raj Persaud

How do we understand what the implicit social rules are that govern our behaviour? They’re so implicit. They’re so almost invisible – yet we all obey them – i.e. they’re massively powerful that the only way to get at them, because you couldn’t use an MRI brain scanner or a microscope… What’s the tool you would use to illuminate the social rules that actually govern our lives

?Neil: How do they affect our lives

Dan: He says that they govern our behaviour, they govern our lives – this means that they ‘control’ our lives. They ‘rule’ our lives

Neil: What’s interesting is that he says these social rules are implicit. They are not written down anywhere. They are unspoken but understood

Dan: If they are unspoken and not written down, how can scientists and sociologists study them? How can they find out about them? They need a way to illuminate the rules. This means a way of shining a metaphorical light on them to see what they are

.Neil: Here’s Dr Persaud again

Dr Raj Persaud

How do we understand what the implicit social rules are that govern our behaviour? They’re so implicit. They’re so almost invisible – yet we all obey them i.e. they’re massively powerful that the only way to get at them, because you couldn’t use an MRI brain scanner or a microscope… What’s the tool you would use to illuminate the social rules that actually govern our lives

Neil: One way to find out about a rule is to break it. Another word for ‘break’ when we’re talking about rules is breach and breaching experiments were used to learn about social rules. Here’s Dr Persaud describing one of those experiments

Dr Raj Persaud

You breached the social rule on purpose. So a classic one – people would go into the Metro, the underground railway – Tube – and there’d be only one person sitting in a carriage. You would go and sit next to that person. And if that led to awkwardness or discomfort, where the person got off the tube stop immediately, you had discovered a social rule

?Neil: So, what was the experiment

Dan: Well, quite simply, find a nearly empty train carriage and then go and sit right next to someone rather than a distance away. If that person then feels uncomfortable or awkward, and that’s something you can tell by watching their behaviour – for example, do they change seat, move carriage or get off the train completely? If they do, then you know you’ve discovered a rule

Neil: So you find a rule by breaking it or breaching it. OK, time to review our vocabulary, but first, let’s have the answer to the quiz question. I asked which city has the oldest underground railway. Is it

a) London

b) New York and

c) Tokyo

.Dan, you were pretty confident

Dan: I was! I said London, but now I’m having second thoughts. I think it might be New York

Neil: Oh… That’s a little bit awkward, isn’t it? Well, it is London, so I don’t know if you’re right or wrong! I feel a bit uncomfortable now. The facts are that London opened in 1863. New York was 1904 and Tokyo, 1927. Well done, and extra bonus points if you knew any of those dates. Now it’s time for our vocabulary. I hope it doesn’t make you feel awkward, but you can you start, Dan

Dan: Of course! And the adjective awkward, and its noun awkwardness, are on our list for today. They mean an uncomfortable feeling in a social situation

Neil: This is all connected with the idea of social rules – unspoken, but well known rules which we follow in daily life to avoid awkward situations

Dan: The rules, as Neil said, are not spoken and they are not written down but we know them and understand them. They are implicit

.Neil: And these implicit rules govern our lives. The verb govern means to control and rule

Dan: To see something clearly, either in reality or metaphorically, you need to put some light on it. You need illuminate it. And that was the next of our words, the verb illuminate

Neil: And finally we had a word which means, when we’re talking about rules, the same as break, to breach

.Dan: In experiments they breached the rules to learn more about them

Neil: Well, we don’t want to breach any rules so it’s time for us to leave you for today. But don’t worry we will be back. In the meantime, you can find us in all the usual places online and on social media, just look for BBC Learning English. Bye for now

!Dan: Bye-bye

BBC 6 minute English-Why do we feel awkward
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